I remember him so clearly...Juan, that is...even though it has been over twenty years since I met him. Then, he was a small ten year old boy wandering the boardwalk of an ocean-side New Jersey town. Alone. That always stands out to me. His big brown eyes looked up at me as he smiled full. My friend had just shared the good news of Jesus Christ with him...and he was excited, overwhelmed. He understood the hope. He immediately invited us - begged us - to come to his home: "Won't you come and tell mi mama? Por favor, please...she needs to know." Those big brown eyes began brimming with tears. It was like we had offered him a lifeline and he knew it. He knew that this one thing, this one Person held the power to change everything. And Juan was clinging to us because we knew Him...and maybe, maybe this One could change his life too.
We went gladly, daring to enter the poverty-stricken home of an immigrant from Puerto Rico. The mother, she welcomed us with a weary, hesitant smile, fear hiding behind her lashes and a flow of questions in her foreign tongue - questions too big for two twenty year old girls in their native tongue. Her life was a sad one. Marked not only by poverty, but the hopelessness that comes when you feel trapped with no way out - emotional poverty, spiritual poverty. She was in a strange land with a man who mistreated her and her precious son. But if she left, well...how would she support her son? The soft, rhythmic voice she spoke in - Spanish, everything in Spanish...how is it that we came to her today? How is it that today, when she was crying for help, two women showed up on her doorstep - both fluent in Spanish? She asked the questions that have only One answer...and His name is Jesus Christ. God gently called her to Himself. She bowed her head with tears, she accepted His free gift...and she resolved to take the next step. Within the week, she was no longer living with her boyfriend. God had provided for her...amazing things: a safe place to live, food to eat, a church to help her, employment. The most marked difference in her life was the hope.
While we lived in that New Jersey town, my friend and I visited her frequently, this woman transformed. We shared the Word with her in her native tongue, we shared our food with her, our things with her and we demonstrated love to her. She was like a sponge receiving water after it had been left too long in the sun.
And her son, that brown eyed young boy....he rejoiced and he sang a new song...and his life was forever changed one day on the boardwalk in the middle of a usual day when he came face to face with the Christ. And because of his boldness, not only his life, but the life of his mother, the life of my friend and my life too - all changed..four lives that collided because of Christ.